Ethical Principles for External Members of Norges Bank's Executive Board

Laid down by the Executive Board on 18 June 2014.

Background

Norges Bank, as central bank and manager of the Government Pension Fund Global, is entrusted with considerable authority and confidence. It is important to safeguard the Bank's reputation and ensure a high level of ethical awareness and integrity among all employees and Executive Board members.

The Ministry of Finance laid down a regulation relating to impartiality for Norges Bank's Executive Board on 7 August 2000. The regulation pertains to members of the Executive Board and alternates, including employee representatives. The regulation is included in an appendix to these ethical principles.

For the governor, deputy governor and employee representatives, Ethical Principles for Employees of Norges Bank (laid down by the Executive Board on 19 October 2011, most recently amended on 4 December 2013) are applicable as a supplement to the regulation.

These Ethical Principles for External Members of the Executive Board are applicable as a supplement to the regulation. They are based on the principles pertaining to the Bank's employees, but have been specially adapted to the external members of the Executive Board.

1. Purpose

The purpose of the Ethical Principles for External Members of the Executive Board is to safeguard the reputation and the confidence of the public in Norges Bank by ensuring that the external members of Norges Bank's Executive Board perform their duties in an unbiased and independent manner and that they are loyal to Norges Bank. The Ethical Principles shall help create a common attitude to ethical matters among the external members of Norges Bank's Executive Board.

However, ethics involve more than mandates and prohibitions laid down in laws and regulations. Ethics also deal with attitudes and the choices we make. It is neither possible nor desirable to regulate every conceivable matter that may arise. The aim of the Ethical Principles is to provide a guide in dealing with such matters.

2. Business conduct

Norges Bank shall maintain a high level of ethical standards in the conduct of its activities, respect human rights, act in a socially responsible manner and comply with current laws and regulations.

Norges Bank does not accept any form of discrimination or corruption.

3. Scope

These Ethical Principles are applicable to external members of the Executive Board and external alternates to the Executive Board in their performance of their duties as Executive Board members or when acting on behalf of Norges Bank.

4. General principles

All external members of the Executive Board have a responsibility to contribute to the safeguarding of Norges Bank's reputation. This includes a requirement to refrain from illegal acts, including all forms of corruption, such as giving or receiving bribes or improper advantages. Furthermore, all external members of the Executive Board shall refrain from fraud, embezzlement or dereliction of duty that could harm the reputation of the Bank. This also includes a requirement to act in an ethically responsible manner and to have a high level of ethical awareness.

5. Duty of confidentiality

All who work or perform a service for Norges Bank have a duty to prevent others from gaining access to, or knowledge of, any matter that they may become aware of in the performance of their duties regarding the business affairs of the Bank or of other parties, or of the private circumstances of any person (cf. Section 12 of the Norges Bank Act).

6. Personal trading

External members of the Executive Board may, for the purpose of managing their private assets or savings, carry out trades in shares, bonds and units in securities funds. Such management must be carried out in compliance with relevant laws and regulations (see in particular Section 8 of the regulation relating to conflicts of interest for Norges Bank's Executive Board).

7. Handling of inside information and other sensitive company information

When trading in financial instruments, external members of the Executive Board must refrain from misusing inside information[1]or other sensitive information they have knowledge of through their work for Norges Bank.[2] External members of the Executive Board who receive such information must also refrain from enabling others to misuse the information in trading in financial instruments. The abuse of inside information constitutes a criminal offence.[3]

Reference is made in particular to Section 8 of the regulation relating to impartiality for Norges Bank's Executive Board.

8. Handling of conflicts of interest

External members of the Executive Board should refrain from any actions that may create a conflict between private interests and the interests they are to protect as members of Norges Bank's Executive Board.

External members of the Executive Board should seek the necessary clarification from the Ministry of Finance, if after appointment to the Executive Board, doubts are raised concerning the limitations on a member's activities and interests etc., under the regulation relating to impartiality for Norges Bank's Executive Board. See in particular the limitations pursuant to Sections 6 and 7 of the regulation.

Reference is also made to Section 25 of the Executive Board's rules of procedure concerning impartiality.

9. Gifts and personal benefits from/to Norges Bank's business contacts

External members of the Executive Board shall refrain from receiving gifts or personal benefits, for themselves or for others, from Norges Bank's business contacts when acting on behalf of the Bank. "Business contacts" are defined as external contacts maintained by Norges Bank in the conduct of its activities.

In general, Norges Bank shall not give any gifts to business contacts.

Under no circumstances are external members of the Executive Board permitted to offer, or in any other way favour, Norges Bank's business contacts with any kind of benefit in order to obtain (including where the action may appear to be an attempt to obtain) contracts or personal benefits.

The prohibitions in this section apply irrespective of the financial value of the benefit and even if the giving of the benefit is deemed customary in the relevant social milieu, country or culture.

10. Permission for members of the Executive Board to accept invitations etc. in their official capacity

External members of the Executive Board may, as part of Norges Bank's activities, participate at external seminars, meetings and events that are relevant to Norges Bank's activities and where participation is in the interests of Norges Bank or of the Executive Board.

Costs related to travel, meetings, seminars etc. shall, as a main rule, be covered by Norges Bank.

When external members of the Executive Board act on behalf of Norges Bank, they may only accept invitations to meals from Norges Bank's business contacts if the meal naturally forms part of a meeting or other type of event members attend in their capacity as Executive Board member, or where the purpose is clearly not to obtain a contract with or special benefits from Norges Bank.

11. Lectures and educational activities on behalf of the Bank

In external communications, the governor speaks on behalf of the Executive Board (cf. Section 22, third paragraph, of the Executive Board's rules of procedure). To the extent agreed with the governor, external members of the Executive Board may participate and represent Norges Bank in various external gatherings and contribute by giving lectures etc. regarding or relating to Norges Bank's activities.

12. Reporting and compliance

External members of the Executive Board have a responsibility to comply with the regulation relating to impartiality for Norges Bank's Executive Board and these Ethical Principles.

With regard to the regulation relating to impartiality for Norges Bank's Executive Board, the Executive Board's secretariat shall establish a routine to ensure that members are reminded of the regulation on an annual basis. The routine shall recommend that members of the Executive Board report on compliance with the regulation.

The Ministry of Finance has the ultimate responsibility for interpreting the regulation relating to impartiality. The Ministry of Finance may, when deemed unobjectionable, make exemptions from the rules in the regulation (see Section 11 of the regulation).

There is no requirement for ongoing reporting from members of the Executive Board pursuant to these Ethical Principles. Questions regarding the rules may be directed to the Executive Board's secretariat.

Appendix:

The Ministry of Finance's Regulation No. 809 of 7 August 2000 relating to the relationship of members of Norges Bank's Executive Board with other credit institutions and enterprises (Impartiality Regulation). 

Footnotes

[1] Inside information is information of a precise nature that is likely to have a significant effect on the price of financial instruments and that is not available to the public or generally known in the market. A more detailed definition appears in Section 3-2 of the Securities Trading Act.

[2] It is recommended that external members of the Executive Board refrain from all trading in financial instruments during the "interest rate period", running from the time they receive the first draft of the Monetary Policy Report until the interest rate decision and Monetary Policy Report are published.

[3] The formal statutory basis in Norway for the prohibition against the abuse of inside information and other rules of conduct relating to financial instruments is the provisions of Chapter 3 of Securities Trading Act concerning abuse of inside information etc. in force at any given time. The terms "inside information" and "abuse of inside information" are defined in Sections 3-2 and 3-3 of the Securities Trading Act.

Published 22 September 2014 12:20